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Bleach DVD Set Fifteen – Original and Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 12, 2013 by  



It’s an all out war as the Soul Reaper Captains and Lieutenants take on the high level Arrancars!  Who lives and who dies?  Find out in “Bleach DVD Set Fifteen – Original and Uncut”.  Highly recommended for “Bleach” fans!

Image courtesy of © Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Dentsu, Pierrot. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Bleach DVD Set Fifteen – Original and Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 218-229 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: VIZ Media

RATED: 13+

Release Date: December 11, 2012

Originally created by Tite Kubo

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Masashi Kudo

Art Director: Natsuko Suzuki, Sawako Takagi

Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Dentsu, Studio Pierrot

Featuring the following voice talent:

Fumiko Orikasa/Michelle Ruff as Rukia Kuchiki

Masakazu Morita/Johnny Yong Bosch as Ichigo Kurosaki

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jamieson Price as Sado “Chad” Yasutora

Kentarou Itou/Wally Wingert as Abarai Renji

Masakazu Morita/Johnny Yong Bosch as Hollow Ichigo

Noriaki Sugiyama/Derek Stephen Prince as Ishida Uryuu

Satsuki Yukino/Wendee Lee as Shihouin Yoruichi (human form)

Shinichiro Miki/Michael Lindsay as Urahara Kisuke

Yuki Matsuoka/Stephanie Sheh as Inoue Orihime

Kaya Matsutani/Megan Hollingshead as Rangiku Matsumoto

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Vic Mignogna as Ikkaku Madarame

Jun Fukuyama/Brian Beacock as Yumichika Ayasegawa

Romi Paku/Steve Staley as Toshiro Hitsugaya

One hundred and ten years ago in the Soul Society, Kisuke Urahara was appointed captain of Squad Twelve to dissent and controversy. But nine years later, when strange disappearances began taking place in the Rukon District, only Kisuke figured out the identity of the perpetrator. Back in the present, Sosuke Aizen enters the World of the Living on a mission of destruction…

Ichigo and friends are now on a mission to stop the traitorous soul reaper, Sosuke Aizen who along with his army of Arrancars are preparing their plan to destroy the Soul Society and wiping out Karakura Town. Meanwhile, in order to protect Ichigo and her friends, Orihime willingly stays with Aizen’s group but Ichigo and friends will do all they can to save her. Meanwhile, the Thirteen Court Guard Companies head to Karakura.

The battles between the Soul Reapers and King Barragan’s four pillars has begun!  The battles consist of Assistant Captain, Ninth Company Shuhei Hisagi vs. Findorr, Yumichika Ayasegawa vs. Charlotte Chul-Hourne, Madarame Ikkaku vs. Poww and Kira Izuru vs. Abirama.

Also, soul reaper Kira Izuru vs. the bird-like Fracciones named Abirama fight to the death.  Meanwhile, Assistant Captain, Ninth Company Shuhei Hisagi vs. Findorr takes on King Barragan’s Fracciones Findorr Calius.   As Madarame Ikkaku continues to fight Poww, he gets some help from Captain Komamura and Tetsu-Zaemon.

And now King Barragan Luisenbarn has sent his great Fracciones to fight to the death against the soul reapers!

So, what is “Bleach”?

“Bleach” is one of those titles, alongside “Naruto” and “Dragon Ball Z” that has managed to capture the attention of anime fans and continues to reinvent itself with new sagas and characters. Created in 2001 by mangaka Tite Kubo, the manga has been published on Weekly Shonen Jump and the animated series has been airing on Japanese television since 2004.

The series has manged to grow its fandom worldwide, especially in the US as the series has aired on television on the Cartoon Network and the various video games for the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP have also been popular among the fans as well.

The manga series revolves around teenager Ichigo Kurosaki, who has the ability to see Soul Reapers (a military group that escorts the souls of the dead) and in this case, Ichigo has seen a female Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki. One day, a hollow (a monster that was once a human soul) has come to attack and when Rukia was injured, she transferred her spirit pressure to Ichigo in order for him to fight the hollow.

The series focused on Ichigo and Rukia’s friendship as somehow nearly all her spirit pressure had been transferred to Ichigo and stripping away her soul reaper power and thus Ichigo now has the power to take on the hollows while Rukia helps guide him through the battles with her knowledge. As Rukia temporarily lives with Ichigo, the two together battle hollows.

Meanwhile, in the Soul Society, they learn that a traitor was in their midst and it was revealed the traitor was Fifth Division Captain Sosuke Aizen along with Ninth Division Captain Kaname Tosen and Third Division captain Gin Ichimaru.

It was learned that Aizen was experimenting illegally with hundreds of Shinigami and Rukongai in order to create a new powerful Hogokyu (a blue orb that can dissolve the boundaries between shinigami and hollows and allowing one to attain the powers of the other). And for Aizen, his goal is to create the perfect Arrancar.

In season six, Aizen unleashed his army of Arrancars against the Soul Reapers. The Arrancars have the power of the Soul Reaper, have a weapon similar to a Zanpakuto and intelligence beyond a normal hollow. Where a Zanpakuto is a manifestation of owner’s soul, for the Arrancars, it is a manifestation of its former self. And the strongest members of the Arrancar are known as the Espada.

This leads us to the 11th season of “Bleach” in Japan, which was a short season that is a flashback arc that show us the past of Kisuke Urahara and the creation of the Visoreds.

110 years ago, the Soul Society was comprised with different captains. Shinji Hirao was the Fifth Division Captain and working under him was lieutenant Sosuke Aizen. There is news that a new Twelfth Division Captain is being hired and it was recommended by Yoruichi Shihoin that Kisuke Urahara to be the new Captain.

But while Urahara is gifted with mysterious talents, his blunt and loudmouthed liutenant Hiyori Sarugaki is not to happy with his appointment as Captain. Seeing Urahara as lazy and weak, she can’t believe that he is the new Captain and when she goes to attack him, she is shocked that her kicks misses him in the head and so quick, that he makes everyone think that she had hit him perfectly, when in fact, she had missed and then put himself in a position to get kicked afterward.

As Hiori learns from her new Captain, she is taken to the Maggots Nest, a holding area for people who may be too dangerous for the Soul Society. And he explains about the development of the Technological Research Bureau that he had created. Urahara hires a young Mayuri Kurotsuchi to be his second in command at the bureau. Meanwhile, a young boy in the Fifth Division has moved up and his name is Gin Ichimaru, who impresses Aizen with his abilities.

Fast forward nine years later, and there are three shadowed figures watching the Rukongai and many of its citizens begin disappearing. Ninth Division Kensei Muguruma and his group go to investigate and see a gigantic hollow attacking a group of kids, one is a younger Shuhei Hisagi (which answers the question of why grown up Shuhei has numbers on him). Hiyori of the Twelfth Division is also sent to check on the disappearances of the Rukongai citizens.

As the investigation continues through the night, the Ninth Division is slaughtered except Captain Kensei and when he sees his attackers, he is shocked. Their troubling deaths lead the Soul Society to send the the Kido Corps (featuring Captain and Lieutenants of different divisions) to investigate the matter.

But it is quickly revealed when the Kido Corps is dismantled of who the perpetrator is….Aizen, Ichimaru and Tosen. It is learned that Aizen is practicing hollowfication and discovering his motives are Kisuke Urahara and Captain Tessai Tsukabishi. And using his Zanpakuto, is able to make people think that the ones responsible are Kisuke and Tessai.

As the two are shocked by their order of lifetime imprisonment for practicing hollowfication and killing their fellow members of the Soul Society, Yoruichi manages to break both men out of the area but also taking the bodies of the hollowfied Kido Corps to a special area. And Urahara’s new goal is to find a way to undo the hollowfication.

And now, taking us to present time, where the members of the Kido Corps have now become Visored (Vizard), Soul Reapers who have obtained hollow powers.

This storyline then transitions to Season 12 known as part four of the “Arrancar Battle”. A storyline which continues to showcase the Soul Reapers vs. the Arrancars and Aizen’s goal to use Karakura to invade and destroy the Soul Society.

In “Bleach DVD Set Fifteen”, the story focuses on the battle between the Soul Reapers and King Barragan’s four pillars.  The battles consist of  Assistant Captain, Ninth Company Shuhei Hisagi vs. Findorr, Yumichika Ayasegawa vs. Charlotte Chul-Hourne, Madarame Ikkaku vs. Poww and Kira Izuru vs. Abirama.

Meanwhile, Tenth Division’s Rangiku and  Fifth Division’s Momo Hinamori must take on Fraccion’s Cyan Sung-Sun, Franceska Mila Rose and Emilou Apacci. And Eighth Division’s Shunsui Kyoraku takes on the Espada Coyote Starrk.

But as these battles continue, the Espada’s are known for their resurrection technique and can continue to respawn.  With the tides turning against the Soul Reapers, it’s time for Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto of First Division to engage in battle!

The main characters of “Bleach” are:

  • Ichigo Kurosaki – The main protagonist. A teenager who becomes a substitute soul reaper after absorbing Rukia’s powers. Accepting his new powers and wanting to protect everyone around him. Ichiro manages to grow in power with every battle he gets involved in.
  • Rukia Kuchiki – A Soul Reaper who transferred her spiritual power to Ichigo.
  • Orihime Inoue – A longtime classmate of Ichigo who is very caring and manages to develop her spiritual awareness and after her brother is killed by a hollow, she has managed to grow in power which is tied to a hairpin that her brother had given her.
  • Yasutora “Chad” Sado – A friend of Ichigo and very quiet. Developed a sense of seeing hollows and eventually gaining a power of strength and a right arm that is literally a weapon to fight against hollows.
  • Uryu Ishida – A classmate of Ichigo and a descendant of a priest group that hunted hollows known as Quincy. Earlier on, Uryu was a rival of Ichigo due to his hatred towards the Soul Reapers and eventually becomes friends with him.
  • Kon – A modsoul who’s life soul is put into a stuffed lion. When Ichigo is a Soul Reaper, Kon takes over Ichigo’s body, so no one including Ichigo’s family knows that Ichiro is actually not there. Mostly a comedy-driven character known for his perverseness and always complaining about something.
  • Kisuke Urahara – Owner of the Urahara shop and a former captain of the 12th Division in the Soul Society. He caught Aizen converting Soul Reapers to Visoreds but before he can save them, Aizen framed him for the crimes and Urahara fled to the real world.
  • Yoruichi Shihoin – An old friend of Kisuke Urahara who can turn into a black cat. She is the former captain of the 2nd Division and former Commander in Chief of the Secret Mobile Corps.
  • Renji Abarai – Lt. of the 6th Division in the Gotei 13 under Captain Byakuya Kuchiki. Known to be cocky about his skills, Renji cares deeply for Rukia and thus the reason why he is seen with Ichigo and friends.

VIDEO:

If there is one thing that I’ve always enjoyed about “Bleach” is that for a TV series that is cranked out in Japan, the TV series features a good amount of detail in the background art. The series tends to really showcase quite a bit of locations and thus, not always reusing scenes.

Also, the character designs, despite not always being detailed, is shown great care by character designer Masashi Kudo who definitely respects the original illustrations of Tite Kubo. Some closeups are really well done and there is a good amount of focus on the actual animation during the battle sequences.

For a TV series, especially knowing how in Japan, many of these studios tend to crank them out because they have other deadlines taking on other series, “Bleach” continues to look very good.

As for picture quality, of course on DVD, you are going to see some softness, banding and edge enhancement but for the most part, picture quality is very good on DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Bleach DVD Set Fifteen – Original and Uncut” is presented in stereo English and Japanese. Both dialogue tracks are clear and understandable. For those with a modern receiver may want to set their setting to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bleach DVD Set Fifteen – Original and Uncut” comes with the following special features:

  • Production Art – Using your remote, you can view “Bleach” production art.
  • Clean Ending – The clean ending theme.
  • Omake – The ending omake for episodes 218-229.

For longtime “Bleach” fans, “Bleach DVD Set Fifteen – Original and Uncut” is a significant volume as it finally features the battles between the best vs. the best.  King Barragan Luisenbarn has sent his great Fracciones to fight to the death against the soul reapers!  And there are significant injuries that take place in these episodes that I can’t say anything else without spoiling the story.

But this volume pretty much focuses on the battles which consist of Assistant Captain, Ninth Company Shuhei Hisagi vs. Findorr, Yumichika Ayasegawa vs. Charlotte Chul-Hourne, Madarame Ikkaku vs. Poww and Kira Izuru vs. Abirama.  Soul reaper Kira Izuru vs. the bird-like Fracciones named Abirama fight to the death.  Meanwhile, Assistant Captain, Ninth Company Shuhei Hisagi vs. Findorr takes on King Barragan’s Fracciones Findorr Calius.

But with these crazy battles, expect to see some surprises as certain characters may not be the same after their battle.  Pretty much an all-out battle to the death, who survives and who dies?  Definitely an exciting volume!

With that being said, these episodes close out the season (which is season 12 in Japan) and as episodes 218-226 focus on the battle between the soul reapers and Fracciones, the final three episodes of the season are filler.  But actually, a bit hilarious as the series takes a break from the action and features a story about Rukia going to the world of the living for the first time, what happens when the Soul Reapers head to the ocean in the world of the living for some R&R and closing out with Ikkaku and Yumichika traveling to Karakura Town, where they stay with Keigo and his sister Mizuho Asano, who falls for Ikkaku.

Unfortunately, the battles between the Soul Reapers and Arrancar was delayed as the anime series had to allow mangaka Tite Kubo to complete more manga issues and to feature how these battles would end.  So, expect DVD Set Sixteen and Seventeen (Season 13) to feature episodes that were not in the manga series. While possibly by DVD Set Eighteen to return back to the battle between Soul Reapers and the Arrancar army.

But for “Bleach DVD Set Fifteen”, this is one volume that is pretty much all action.  And this is probably one of the better fight scenes in the anime series so far as we get to see the Soul Reapers take on their most difficult opponents yet.  While fans of Ichigo and friends may not see him as much, his role and battle will be coming soon, but for now, it’s about the Soul Reaper captains and lieutenants engaging in battle.  While there are a few filler episodes in this volume, fortunately the filler episodes are fun to watch.

Overall, “Bleach DVD Set Fifteen – Original and Uncut” is an action-packed and will be a highly enjoyable volume for “Bleach” fans. Soul Reapers vs. Arrancars in the battle to the death!  Who will survive this epic battle?

Recommended for “Bleach” fans!

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